Topics YOU Want Energy Central to Focus On: Poll Results

Posted to Energy Central in the Utility Management Group
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Matt Chester's picture
Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

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  • Jun 22, 2021

We asked, and you answered.

A few weeks ago, we asked the community a simple question: What topics should Energy Central be focusing on in the second half of the year

Our goal was to gather a pulse on the Community and determine what topics should be considered for upcoming PowerTalks, PowerSessions, Special Issues, Podcasts, and more. And I'm thrilled to report: you all delivered!

We thought it would be useful to share some of the key topics that came up time and again in the answers from you and your peers, not only so you know the topics that we're now considering putting more effort into for you, but also so you can consider writing and sharing on these topics to get even better engagement and interaction from the Energy Central Community!

So with that said, see below for the topics of focus that the Community wants to hear more on in the coming months. And if there's anything you think is missing, let us know in the comments.


Matt Chester

Energy Central Community Manager


*Note-- this list below has as of July 19 been updated with additional topics that were suggested in the comments section of this article. If you have others you'd like to see added to the list, post them in the comments as well!


Topics of Interest to the Community According to our Community Poll in May

Digital Topics

  • Data analytics
  • Use of digital twins in inspection, operations, and maintenance
  • Cybersecurity policies and practices
  • Non-generation technology practices
  • Grid model data management


Generation Topics

  • Nuclear micro-reactors
  • Nuclear hybrid systems
  • Utility-grade battery storage as a DER
  • Generating green hydrogen
  • Adopt new electric AC motor technology


Grid Topics

  • Lessons learned from recent extreme weather events and blackouts
  • Smart grid proliferation and smart meter opportunities
  • Impact of electric vehicles and V2G
  • Load shifting and TOU practices
  • Case studies on resilience and reliability
  • Grid edge technologies
  • The duck curve



  • Shifting away from gas consumption
  • Clean energy financing
  • Milestones on the path to a net-zero grid
  • Resilience of systems in the face of climate change
  • Eliminating digital currency that is consuming vast amount of electricity
  • Sourcing of carbon credits in particular valuing offshore carbon credits


Utility Business Focus

  • The aging workforce
  • Aerial inspection processes
  • Focus on buying American
  • Skills needed in the workforce to meet next decade's challenges
  • Shift to consumer ownership of power production
  • Integrating equity into the community
  • Fire safety practices for equipment and assets
  • Redesigning utility bills
  • How to implement hybrid work solutions  - the cyber security implications and why it's essential to attract the best next generation workforce
  • Rising Customer Expectations for Digital Utility Services
  • Revenue and Cost Adjustments
  • The possibility of finance problems for the utilities


Jim Horstman's picture
Jim Horstman on Jun 24, 2021

Good to see the interest in Grid Model Data Management although it didn't make the winner cut. Since it underlies several of the topics on that list as well as being related to the digital twin topic I would like to see it moved up into the winner's circle and would be glad to help out as needed.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 24, 2021

For the record, the above isn't a 'ranking' of any type-- they're put out there in no particular order. So I'd call all those topics the 'winners'

Jim Horstman's picture
Jim Horstman on Jul 1, 2021

OK thanks Matt. I am still interested in helping out on the GMDM topic based on my work with EPRI.

Randy Dutton's picture
Randy Dutton on Jun 28, 2021

Eliminate digital currency that is consuming vast amount of electricity. Bitcoin mining already requires more power than the total produced by a few countries. It also has forced China to build more coal power plants so as to be the major Bitcoin mining country.



Randy Dutton's picture
Randy Dutton on Jun 28, 2021

Adopt new electric AC motor technology, such as EXRO's Coil Driver, that uses an algorithm to create multiple power profiles (high torque or high speed) from the same motor depending upon need. This would make most future electric motors smaller and more efficient.


Mark Wilkinson's picture
Mark Wilkinson on Jun 29, 2021

A lot of great topics for your article focus above, and utilities always do a good job of planning for extended periods.  However, post-COVID life likely still has a few curveballs to throw at long term planning.  If we want to tackle issues that likely will have a tremendous impact on the second half of the year and well into 2022, I'd suggest a few additions.  

How to implement hybrid work solutions  - the cyber security implications and why it's essential to attract the best next generation workforce.  We won't tackle an aging workforce or attract talent with the skills needed in the industry without addressing a remote or hybrid work environment, but the implications for CIOs and CISOs haven't been well documented.

Rising Customer Expectations for Digital Utility Services - during COVID every consumer became a digital customer of their favored brands, and companies that didn't adapt to digital outreach, engagement, and self-service paid a steep price.  According to multiple studies, customers' digital expectations have increased, yet most consumers find fault with utility digital experiences.  How does the utility promote a "digital first" mindset to cope with all of their customers becoming more digitally enabled?

Revenue and Cost Adjustments - the uncertainty about account delinquency and how to deal with the budget and operational impacts doesn't get a lot of press, but it's on the minds of utility teams around the country, large and small.  How can utilities cope with budget challenges by finding new revenue, accelerating programs to save money and reduce operational costs, and deliver services differently to their customers without impacting CSAT and loyalty?

Utilities did a pretty great job adjusting to COVID and getting their workforce enabled for remote work on a temporary basis, but with the country returning to a semblance of normal, the topics above will resonate for how utilities will do business and work with their customers for the immediate term.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 29, 2021

Thanks for the additional ideas, Mark-- definitely adding them to the list!

Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Jun 29, 2021

Hey Folks,  It is nice to have this poll.  I would recommend looking at the duck curve, and the possibility of finance problems for the utilities.  This has been covered in

The utilities need higher rates to cope with all the things they are supposed to do, as in

and a regular update of what is happening with this, and how it intersects with the desire to build microgrids and encourage distributed generation would be valuable.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jun 29, 2021

Great additional suggestions, Julian.

On the Duck Curve-- we've definitely seen some focus on that on Energy Central, and I'll say a great post even just went live by John Benson here:


But we'll definitely keep in mind your additional suggestions-- thanks!

Paul Raftery's picture
Paul Raftery on Jul 4, 2021

Could you please add to the topic the sourcing of carbon credits in particular valuing offshore carbon credits.

Thanks Paul Raftery (Sydney, Australia).


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 6, 2021

Thanks for the topic suggestion, Paul-- we'll add that to our internal list of topics people are looking to hear more from!

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